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A Christmas Garland    by Anne Perry order for
Christmas Garland
by Anne Perry
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Anne Perry's fans know that for a number of years she has ushered in December with a short Christmas mystery. This year is no different. A Christmas Garland offers an exotic courtroom drama set in India in 1857 just after the violent Siege of Cawnpore.

An Indian prisoner has escaped from the British garrison and a guard has been killed. Although there are no witnesses to the escape and no evidence against him, John Tallis, a British medical orderly, is accused of being an accomplice in the prisoner's flight to freedom.

Even though there must be a pretense of justice being served, it has already been determined that Tallis is guilty. Victor Narraway has been selected to be the orderly's defense lawyer but it is made very clear that he isn't expected to try too hard to make a positive case for the young man.

Of course, Narraway elects to defy his superiors and have a go at defending the scapegoat. Some clever detective work and a Christmas garland allow Narraway to derail a major miscarriage of justice and succeed in making it a very happy holiday for John Tallis.

2nd Review by Mary Ann Smyth:

Anne Perry's Christmas novel for 2012 takes us back to the days of England's presence in India. While reading and enjoying this well-written tale, I kept wondering why A Christmas Garland might be considered a seasonal story.

I wondered until the last page, then realized where it had been going. It's 1857 in Cawnpore. Lieutenant Victor Narraway has been chosen to defend an Indian guard charged with murder, as well as allowing a prisoner to escape. Because of the escape, it is believed that information about a patrol leaked. That patrol was ambushed and English soldiers died.

It looks like an open and shut case for the prosecution. Narraway sees his efforts to prove his client innocent as the end of his career in the military. He's in a real bind. Life is never easy but he feels he's been handed a losing case that no one else would take on.

Anne Perry's nimble mind has created a story that will keep the reader turning pages. The ending is a complete surprise, definitely a Christmas story, and with a great moral. What a lovely Christmas present for the readers on your list.

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